Tell Us Something About Yourself

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Read Time:4 Minute, 27 Second

The other day, I just got back from a 15-minute a.k.a short break during my ‘Communications Training’. My trainer had a wonderful activity in store for us. We had to introduce ourselves in a story or poetry form. No names to be disclosed. At first, it seemed a herculean task – but as I started writing, I figured it was worse. It just didn’t sit well with me. I had to do something different – something that helps me express myself. I didn’t want to cut a sorry figure mouthing lines like a parrot. That’s when I decided to go extempore (Show-off, did you say? Well… then, show-off it is). What came out of my mouth the other day was an excerpt. Here are the whole nine yards. Read on!!!

Several blue moons ago, in a dusty town, which by the way is also known as Orange City, landed a lanky yet handsome blue-eyed man with his lissom wife. No – they didn’t meet there, didn’t fall in love there (arranged marriage, you see), didn’t get married there (that happened in God’s Own Country) – they just reached there from yet another town, about 250KM East. This was the beginning of an epic journey called Marital Life that they embarked on, in the year MCMLXXVI AD, a leap year, the year in which Eagles released Hotel California.

It was not a bed of roses – far from it. While they could just make ends meet, I’m sure that’s not what every man/woman dream of after entering the sacrament of Holy matrimony (no – we’re not Catholics). One thing led to another and they brought their first offspring into this big bad world. Seven pounds and a half – a healthy baby – the firstborn – a SON. In a patriarchal world, this was good news. Now knowing any better – they named him after the erstwhile reigning superstar of what is now called Bollywood.

The day is special too – it was a pleasant winter afternoon-going-on-evening. 1620 IST if I could be precise. It was the very day, several millennia ago, a messiah was born in Bethlehem. I’d like to quote a few lines from the famous Boney M song – Mary’s Boy Child (released in 1978 – that’s not my Y.O.B.)

While shepherds watch their flocks by night

They see a bright new shining star

They hear a choir sing a song, the music seemed to come from afar

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today

And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day

Wait a minute, my Christian brethren – I mean no disrespect. Just a coincidence, here. Peace?

Not a king – but the apple of their eye.

Not a manger – but a small hospital in the urban area of the largest city of North Malabar. The place has a sobriquet too – The land of looms and lore.

That’s where this skinny boy was born. 25th December. Don’t get funny ideas – the boy was far from what you’re already thinking. If you thought of the devil – we couldn’t agree any more than this. Good Job.

This family took the boy to his new home – back to Orange City. The house was a rented apartment in a pre-independence building. This is where he would go from crawling on all fours to riding on two wheels (driven by a moderately powerful 125cc engine). He spent the first 29 years of his life there. More on this here.

Moving On

In 2005, this boy – now a young man moved bag and baggage to what is also called the City of Seven Island, City of Dreams, Maximum City etc. this was where he knew what a five-figure salary feels like. He also got a taste of Adrenaline rush, some Ethanol derivates, some Cortisol, some serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins etc. This city looked like a nuthouse to him, in the beginning. He never knew he would settle down here and start a family one fine day.

More on the boy’s/young man’s migration diaries here.

The boy who once got into trouble for NOT SPEAKING to classmates – now instructs his students NOT TO SPEAK to classmates (only while he’s teaching). From ‘getting scared of teachers’ to ‘getting scared of the boss’ – life has come a full circle. The boy – hereinafter called ‘man’ who has lots to say – but only a few open minds to comprehend the contents, in toto. The man – who stands 6 ft. tall but stands humbled before his 5 ft. something queen. The man who reprimands students for not completing their assignments – but gets reprimanded for not cleaning the house (even after a seemingly arduous day at work. The man – who excels in Communication Skills – but still struggles to get a word in edgeways at home. the man who teaches students how to debate – but has never won a single debate with Her Majesty. the man with a face only his mother could love – now has an eight-year-old who calls him a Prince Charming (Kids!!!).

The man must now rest his tired fingers before Carpel-Tunnel syndrome sets in. I’ll be back soon – in a millennium maybe. Going back to my ‘hiding under the rock’ phase.

Bye for now.

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Extempore and Networking

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Read Time:4 Minute, 23 Second

Hello, all you lovely people.

Weird title? No – it isn’t.

I’m glad I could find some time to pen a few lines. This time it was almost like an epiphany. Like all other epiphanies I’ve had before, this one proved an eye-opener once again. What’s the title got to do with this, you ask? Hold on – all good things come to the man/woman who waits.

Extempore is not just an activity you engaged in, in school or college. It’s a real-life situation and could prove a nightmare if you do not handle it with care. Let us tear this apart. Let us begin with defining the word.

Before that, here’s how to pronounce ‘extempore’ – a word that’s widely mispronounced.

Cambridge Dictionary:

Chambers dictionary:

Google dictionary:

Now that we have got the definition out of the way, let us take a look at its implications. As mentioned earlier, this is not just a word to be defined, it is a situation we may have to live and thereby overcome sometimes. Or should I say many a time? I guess the latter is more befitting.

This is not a new concept or situation. We all have been through this many times – just that we may not have known what it is called. The only reason we need to talk about it is that this will help you recover from such situations easily if not majestically. The problem gets compounded if one also suffers from stage fright a.k.a. Glossophobia.

Glossophobia + Extempore = Catastrophe

While people smartly take care of Glossophobia, an extempore situation may sometimes be shoved down our throats, making it difficult to recover unhurt. However, from my experience, I can vouch for the fact that Glossophobia can be cured. I suffered from it once, as a schoolboy. Today, I teach an entire class of sophomores and have a reasonable (if not magnanimous) following. I would shudder even at the thought or reading from a textbook (from my desk), let alone speaking extempore taking the centre stage. I’ve come a long way – is all I can say for now. However, the journey was not at all easy. On the contrary, I have suffered many a fiasco. The bottom line is – now I’m at peace.

Now let us move on to the next word in the title – Networking.

In my honest opinion, rarely is anyone born with guts of steel and the resultant mind-blowing confidence. We are all born the same – scared of many things. Situations change us – some make us, some break us. However, one of the many things that help overcome an extempore speaking situation is general knowledge. A little knowledge of various topics never hurt. In such critical situations, it can prove a life-saver. They say, birds of a feather flock together. This is not an automatic process – even the birds need to FIND other birds of similar plumage for flocking. In the same way, find people with similar interests and network with them regularly.

Similar interests don’t matter. It depends on the kind of information or knowledge you seek. E.g. if I need to need to sharpen my knowledge of legal terms, I would try to be in the company of lawyers. If photography interests me (and I’ve just discovered that), I would hang out with photographers. If I don’t know any, I would get somebody to introduce me to one so that I can network with them. There’s a biblical phrase I strongly believe in – “Ask, and thou shall receive”. Although I do not subscribe to the theosophical context of the phrase, I do, to the social context.

I maintain – not all knowledge is gleaned from books. Some can be achieved through social networking too. There is a fine line that one needs to watch out when gaining knowledge through social networking. Gone are the days of virtue, days when speaking the truth was important, days when lying was a sin. Since lies, falsehood, treachery etc. are rampant – choose your network wisely. It’s not that books can’t go wrong – after all, it’s people like us that wrote those books too. There’s a difference though, the older the books – the closer to the truth they are.

All in all, read, discuss intelligent topics, watch meaningful videos (and not trashy newspapers or channels that boast of nation-building while secretly abiding by the diktats of their political masters), network with people who matter. All this only goes a long way in alleviating the problem (of monstrous proportions to some) of Glossophobia, thereby helping you with extempore speech.

Start preparing early and when the situation presents itself, just grab it by the… err (clearing my throat) … collar. The next time someone hands over the mic to you, just do what Nike has been asking you to do since I don’t know when … JUST DO IT.

Bye for now.

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Ma L’amore No

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Read Time:3 Minute, 47 Second

Malena (2000)

For the clueless lot, this is the name of an eponymous track sung by Lina Termini, an Italian singer-actor. It was included in the 2000 Italian movie Malena. That is when I heard it for the first time. The movie is based on the WWII era (1939-45), especially when Italy entered WWII. Oh, WWII means 2nd World War (just in case you were still scratching your head). As IMDB succinctly describes the movie, “Amidst the war climate, a teenage boy discovering himself becomes love-stricken by Malena, a beautiful woman living in a small, narrow-minded Italian town.”

WWII

One thing that fascinated me was that this movie fulfils my near-psychotic nostalgia. Somehow, I love things from the past when things were (seemingly) easy and simple. At least, that’s what it looks like, to me. I sometimes yearn to get teleported to that ‘simple’ era. When reality slaps me hard in the face, I do wake up and smell the coffee. The other thing about the movie – regarding the title – Ma L’amore No (But Love No) is the haunting melody of that song.

Good old days

Since the first time I heard it, I’ve (almost) always been transported back to the ‘40s or even the ‘30s. in an eerie coincidence, my grandfather was a teenager then. Now, where did he come into the picture? All in good time. To know the reference to this emotion, one needs to read ‘Long time ago…The village Doctor’. His romance with his wife was legendary. No – not the mushy type portrayed in the movies. He was the ‘40s convent educated, yet Indian man with little to no regard for mushy romance. You read it right – romance, wife. What started with dating, ended only at his funeral (not even at her grave – she died a few years before he did).

Old Couple

In the twilight of their lives, the couple would sit at the veranda, looking into nothingness, speaking just a few words here and there, yet speaking volumes even with their silence. Now that’s what I call the ultimate romance – words not required. Wait a minute – what’s this blog about? Geriatric romance? Not quite. I’m getting to the point. By the way, I call it a geriatric romance because by the time I could realize their emotions, they were already septuagenarians and hence a geriatric couple.

Now let me join the dots – the hauntingly melodious song and the geriatric romance. Now, whenever I hear the song, I imagine them waltzing to that tune in the same era the movie depicts – the ‘40s. That is when they would have been in the prime of their youth. I know this sounds crazy – a quaint couple from Kerala would seem like a far cry from the erstwhile Italian lifestyle. There is still some logic to it – she was an Anglo-Indian and waltz or some form of ballroom dancing would not be new/strange to her. He went to a convent school and hence would not be ignorant about it too. It makes perfect sense to me. Even till their old age, as mentioned above – I imagine their ‘silent’ conversations with the song playing in the background on an imaginary record player. Well, ‘imagine’ would be an incorrect term – these are thoughts that flash across my mind whenever I hear the song with my eyes closed. Such was the influence the melody had on my psyche.

His old dispensary, his belongings, his romance – they all bear a trademark of a bygone era – something that sadly remains confined to the annals of history. I would be the last of my generation to have borne a silent testimony to it. The next generation is way too fast and lacks the attention span that I had as a kid. I know, this song, the melody, the romance, the nostalgia etc. will subside with me. I write this so the next generation (if they read it, that is) can understand what romance meant in the ‘40s and how it lost its glory somewhere down the timeline.

There is more I could say about that barely two-minute song and its immense impact on my psyche – but I doubt if the readers would have the energy left to endure it. So, given my readers’ well-being, I stop right here. You can thank me later.

Bye for now!!!

Reference:

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Why I adopted Linuxfx

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Read Time:5 Minute, 44 Second

I make no bones about the fact that I’m a Linux-o-phile (I’ve just made that word up, don’t look up the internet). I’m that child with a fascination for the moon. Well, this is not the first time I’ve dabbled in the Linux waters – it’s the first time I’m penning down my experience though. The best part about all this ‘dabbling’ business is that Linux offers a LIVE CD option – where you can test/experience the OS without installing it. If you’re not impressed, reboot your computer – you’re back to Windows.

My first brush with Linux was when I was a newbie netsurfer (if you know what that means) in 1997-98. I’ve forgotten the name of the distro – but all I remember is that it came with KDE (K Desktop Environment). It was love-at-first-sight. But my issues had just started. I’d fallen in love with an OS I didn’t fully understand (familiar territory?). Then, I didn’t realize that the internet can be used for ‘learning’ too 😉. Good luck with wondering (and judging me for) what I did with the internet, if not for learning.

My first brush passed off like a girl I saw once, somewhere and then never again, for a long time. But my then-dormant flames for Linux were rekindled when I worked as a showroom salesman in Nagpur. My boss entrusted the sales for some Compaq computers that came pre-loaded with Linux (Ubuntu, I guess). While he asked me to install a pirated copy of Windows 98, I stuck to Linux. That’s where I learnt about XMMS. XMMS was to Linux what Winamp was (and still is) to Windows.

Cut to 2011 – when I got married and discovered that my wife is a ‘Linux-only’ person. When I gifted her a laptop for the first time – it came pre-loaded with Ubuntu (an extremely popular Linux distro) – I offered to clean-install Windows. To my utter surprise, she refused. That’s when I realized that she’s totally into Linux and calls out Windows for all its inconsistencies. I’ve never looked back since.

Linuxfx:

For starters, Linuxfx is distro (short for ‘distribution’ a.k.a. flavour) of Linux aimed at all those who want to test the waters with Linux. This distro makes the Windows users feel at home with the oh-so-familiar look and feel (almost) of Windows 8 or 10. The developers have gone to great lengths to provide first-time users, a near-Windows experience. One look at the screens (I’ve posted them too) and you’ll be amazed at how much the developers are bending it like Beckham – just to make you comfortable and your experience, a memorable one.

Linuxfx Desktop

They’ve retained the Windows desktop screen. This isn’t where the similarities begin, though. It starts at the welcome/login screen (where you need to login to your account).

Login/Lock screen
Login/Lock screen

Just imagine seeing this screen when Linuxfx boots up. Nothing new to a seasoned Windows user. Right? Right!!!

Here are a few other examples to drive my point home.

Now, the journey was not so smooth – I’ll be honest. Firstly, I learnt I need to use ETCHER to create the boot disk. Now that never worked for me. I learnt that RUFUS (what I always use) would not work. On the contrary – it did – a tweak was in order. I had to change the boot type from UEFI (used to boot Windows 8 onwards) to Legacy (for Windows 7 or older). Once that stage crossed, the rest of the installation was a walk in the park.

Just like other popular Linux distros with a Cinnamon (full-feature) desktop environment, Linuxfx comes pre-loaded with a host of commonly used programs:

  • WINE (a compatibility layer that lets you run Windows programs in Linux)
  • Only Office
  • WX Desktop
  • Windows® 10 theme
  • AnyDesk (remote desktop administration tool)

Some tech specs for the Linux fraternity:

Base operating system Ubuntu 20.04 LTS / Linuxfx 10 LTS
Graphical interface (DM) Cinnamon 4.6 + Linuxfx WX Desktop
Kernel 5.7.15
Office Suite OnlyOffice 5.6
Workgroup networks SAMBA
Active Directory PowerBroker (PBIS) / CID
.Exe / .msi compatibility Wine 5 (Linuxfx Version)
Theme for Windows® 10 b00merang GPL Windows® 10 Theme pack
Windows® 10 Tools Linuxfx WX Desktop system tools

Here’s something from the horse’s mouth (https://Windowsfx.org):

Here are some advantages of using Windowsfx on your computer:

  • Fast, very fast: Windowsfx can work very well on computers with only two cores (dual-core processors) and only 2GB of RAM.
  • Safe and stable: The base of Windowsfx is Linux, which by definition already tends to be stabler. Viruses and Malware developed for Windows® will not be a problem for Windowsfx, as they are different platforms, these malicious programs cannot run on Windowsfx.
  • Applications for Windows® and Linux: Windowsfx will give you access to a vast collection of applications. In addition to the apps you are used to, you will have access to a new store, with thousands of free apps, just a click away.

I could go on (and you would be clueless about what I am trying to say). Long story short – it comes to you as a complete package. Unless you are persnickety about your choice of apps, you are good to go with what Linuxfx offers you. I doubt if a regular user would need anything more (I mean installing programs).

(Power users – excuse my ignorance. I could learn a thing or two from you, sir/ma’am)

The trial phase went on fine; that is when I decided to go all the way in – I installed Linuxfx. The rest is history. Any regular Windows user could easily mistake my laptop for a Windows 8 or 10 based laptop.

There is something the developers did to make Windows users all the more comfortable – they retained the legendary Windows lag. If the OS went any faster, Windows users could easily find out it is not Windows OS.

If anyone of you out there would like to taste this already tasty flavour of Linux, contact me. I have been there, done that and would be glad to assist you.

Till then, Ciao!!!

Disclaimer:

The author is not a Certified Linux Professional. The information provided and view expressed here are solely based on the author’s own experiece. The screenshots were taken on the author’s Acer E5-575G laptop. Try/use Linuxfx or any other Linux distro at your discretion. The author disclaims all responsibity toward the consequences of your actions.


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